All cars of a certain age require a little extra maintenance and attention every so often. That’s a fact!
Yet, if there was any exception to that rule, it would be NullZwei – my Verona red 1973 BMW 2002. It’s almost silly just how reliable that little 02 has been. I seldom do much more than give her an oil change in late autumn just before tucking her away for the winter. Other than that, I just drive her. Even when taking her on proper trans-European roadtrips, I rarely have more than the factory tool roll in the boot and not much in the way of spares except maybe a new set of points. And in 27 years of ownership, she’s let me down only once when the mechanical fuel pump packed in – hardly an item which is part of a regular maintenance schedule.
I’d say that’s rather impressive and it only adds up to make the whole driving experience all the more pleasurable. Oddly though, I’ve found there is indeed a downside to all of this. I sometimes tend to take her reliability for granted and sometimes even forget to give her the care she deserves. That’s obviously not the cars fault. It’s entirely my own doing. But even NullZwei requires a little maintenance, and when I forget, a small variety of jobs begin to accumulate.
Time had come for me to finally see to my responsibilities…
Truth be told, it’s been several years since I first detected the slightest of knocks from the front suspension when driving over very rough surfaces. I strongly doubt any of my passengers ever noticed, but I’m somewhat pedantic when it comes to things like that. Even so, it never really got any worse and NullZwei just got on with her usual job of being both entertaining to drive and of course… there’s that word again; reliable. But then a few months ago, I was struck by a sudden guilt over just how little attention I’ve been giving her while throwing liberal amounts of money at both my green BMW 2002, my Reliant Scimitar, my Rochdale Olympic and especially my BMW M535i e12.
So in a frenzy, I probably went a little over the top when I decided to refurbish much of the front axle with new components just to get rid of that smallest of knocks. So on came new front strut bearings, new lower ball joints, new inner- and outer tie rods and new rubber bushings for the anti-roll bar as well. Upon inspecting all the old parts which came off, I suspect it was only the left side lower ball joint which was the offending part. Even so, it felt good lavishing my NullZwei with love, so while I was at it, I also treated the propshaft to a new doughnut and a centre bearing, as there was just the slightest vibration when declutching. Oh, and a stonechip meant I splashed out on a new green tint windscreen too. Mmmmmm… my NullZwei now feels nice and tight again.
But why stop now? Besides, I have always had quite a fetish for period 13” wheels and have accumulated a rather substantial collection over the years. It seems pointless just having them stashed away and collecting dust, so every now and then I swap the wheels around on my 02’s. It’s amazing just how much another set of wheels can change the character of a car! The 72-stamped KronPrinz alloys had been on my NullZwei for about six seasons now, and I fancied a return to steel wheels. With half an inch more lip than the stock steel wheels, the 5” wheels from the 2002ti and 2002tii look great on any 02 in my opinion. Last time I had them on my NullZwei, I used the correct fullsize 2-litre stainless steel wheel trims, but dogdish caps seem to be hot in the classic car scene at the moment, so I figured I’d try the tii steelies with the smaller 1602 wheel trims this time around.
In reality though, I sense the whole swapping of wheels was brought on as some obscure self-justifying excuse to buy new tyres for NullZwei too. There was enough thread on my old Conti’s but I had a craving… Ever since Pirelli relaunched their classic seventies pattern Cinturato CN36 in the popular 185/70 R13 some three years ago, I’ve desperately wanted a set. I just couldn’t postpone it any longer! So I promptly called Dougal at Longstone Tyres and arranged for me to drop by their workshop just outside of Doncaster. They’re all a bunch of true enthusiasts and it was great having a chat with them as they fitted the sexy new Italian rubber to my German steel wheels. While there, another BMW – only of significantly finer vintage and significantly greater value – equally dropped by for four new tyres. What a pair…
Only shortly after this spurt of activity with my NullZwei, did I suddenly need to get to Luxembourg. Well, why fly when you can drive? And why drive a soulless modern car when you can drive a proper car? I needed no further excuses. So off we went – as we have done so many times before – covering in excess of 2,200km or almost 1,400 miles on our five day roundtrip to Luxembourg and then back home to the Peak District again. Needless to say, NullZwei didn’t miss a beat and at no point did the travelling feel like a chore. And no matter whether the roads were dry or wet, my new Cinturatos lived up to my every expectation, omitting little road noise while delivering a perfect balance between grip and comfort. It felt good being behind the wheel of my NullZwei again! This season, I really hadn’t driven her as much as I usually do, so it was a great way of getting some miles on her just before tucking her away for the cold and harsh winter months. My guilt has been suitably seen to.